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Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Page: 1446

Northern Territory: Juvenile Detention


Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:49): My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis. On 29 July 2016, when asked whether he had consulted with any Aboriginal groups about the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Northern Territory, the Attorney-General stated:

As a matter of fact I did. I consulted Mick Gooda, who is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner.

Does the Attorney-General stand by this statement?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:50): I recall that when the Turnbull government decided very, very swiftly to establish the royal commission into the Don Dale youth detention centre and the child protection system of the Northern Territory I had a number of conversations with a number of individuals, including from members of the Indigenous leadership of the country, and Mr Gooda was one of them.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallacher, a supplementary question.



Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:50): Can the Attorney-General confirm that he did not call the Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, but the commissioner in fact contacted the Attorney-General? Can the Attorney-General confirm that when he returned the commissioner's call he said he would think about consultation, but the commissioner never heard anything back? Are the Attorney-General's claims of consultation just as fictional as his claims of consultations with the Solicitor-General?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:51): Senator Gallacher, I do not remember precisely what was said between Mr Gooda and me, but you asked me whether I spoke to him and I have told you I did. In fact, as you know, I subsequently decided to appoint him as a royal commissioner.

I know Mr Gooda very, very well indeed. I speak to him quite often about issues of this kind, and I did speak to him at that time. I might say, Senator Gallacher, since you have sought to draw a comparison, when I consult people, do you know what I do? I ask them what they think about an issue. My view of what consultation means stands in stark contrast to the view of Mr Mark Dreyfus, who said on Sky News on 6 October, 'You can't consult with someone if you haven't told them what you're going to do.' Now, that is Mr Dreyfus's view of a consultation: you make up your mind first and then you tell somebody what you have already decided to do. My view is: you ask them for their view.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallacher, a final supplementary question.



Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:52): Isn't this just another example, Senator Brandis, of you, as Attorney-General, being slippery with the facts and too arrogant to consult with those impacted by your decisions?

The PRESIDENT: Point of order, Senator O'Sullivan?

Senator O'Sullivan: Mr President, there is an obvious trend with the use of this word 'slippery' directed at the Attorney-General. It has a common and offensive connotation, and I believe they should withdraw the reference.

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, Senator O'Sullivan: I have let the terminology be used in previous questions and commentary. It is borderline, but I will let it go on this occasion.

Senator BRANDIS: Senator Gallacher, I think I am known as somebody who is very, very careful in my use of language, unlike the shadow Attorney-General, who is very careless and reckless in his use of language. But I cannot miss the opportunity to dwell on the delightfulness of Mr Dreyfus's definition of consultation. Let me quote it to you again: 'You cannot consult with someone if you have not told them what you are going to do.'

Well, Senator Gallacher, the shadow Attorney said, 'You cannot consult with someone if you have not told them what you are going to do.' Mr Dreyfus thinks that consultation means making up your mind first and talking later—and telling someone what you are going to do. But when I consult people I ask them for their views, as I did with Mr Gooda and as I did with Mr Gleeson.